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Colts Wednesday Mailbag: Why Did The Colts Start Slow Against Detroit?

Intro: This Wednesday, mailbag readers inquire about the injury situation going into Denver, the Colts not having their bye week after playing in London this year and what the defensive line could look like next month.

INDIANAPOLIS – Each week, readers of Colts.com can submit their questions to have a chance of them being answered in our Wednesday or Saturday mailbag.

Here is the collection of Wednesday questions:Joey K. (United States)

hello Mr Bowen

I am not so concerned with this team as many others are. besides the slow start, which I cannot explain, we had proved that our offense is the real deal. say what you want, but if we protect Andrew Luck, great things are going to happen to this offense. AC played like his old self at left tackle, Kelly was as advertised in my opinion..and I thought Good played an excellent right guard. and Jack did fine coming back from the injury no? well I'm not a huge reitz fan but he can fill the slot until Clark is ready..we had a similar team go to the championship game 2 seasons ago. am I right too not panic?

Bowen: It's one game. Panic buttons are never pressed in September. Let's start off on what has to improve for the Colts. Tackling and starting faster is atop that list, by a wide margin. Even with the plethora of injuries really depleting the defense, that unit still has to wrap up better. It is remarkable though (not in a good way) that the defense was missing five of its top six defensive backs for the entire second half on Sunday. The injuries aren't an excuse. It's a harsh reality the Colts are facing right now. We have no idea just what that unit will look like in 2016 until some of their starters (Clayton Geathers, Kendall Langford, Henry Anderson and Vontae Davis) return to full health. Led by Luck, the offense certainly has the ability to be a top unit in the league this season. We saw on Sunday just the variety in production from the skill positions. It was the backups (Robert Turbin/Josh Ferguson, Jack Doyle and Jacoby Brissett) making plays for Luck. We know the back half of the schedule is particularly challenging, so the Colts would be well served not to let Week One snowball.

Myra D. (Indianapolis)

I know a lot of people are questioning the clock management at the end of the game but since we could have made a first down still inside the 2, we may have needed that time. It's just a disappointment the defense was too tired and thin by then. Which brings me to my question, it seems like we've been starting slow ever since we've focused on getting the run game established first and the offense starts clicking when we air it out even with the short passes trying to catch up after falling behind. Opinion?

Bowen: Yes, the slow starts have plagued the Colts. We saw it in Sunday's season opener, before the offense got into a serious rhythm. In looking back at the box score, it's clear the offense didn't do itself any favors on the early downs. It took the Colts four drives on Sunday before they found the end zone. Those four drives ended following a 3rd-and-15, a 3rd-and-8, another 3rd-and-8 and a 3rd-and-21. Look at those down and distances. None of those are favorable for the offense. Instead, you have the defense salivating over such chances. The Colts have to win the early downs, especially early in games. Until they start getting into more third-and-manageable situations, the slow starts are going to continue. We will see Sunday if the Colts choose to open things up more offensively early on. Does some tempo out in the Mile High enter the game plan for Rob Chudzinski?

Yash T. (Denver)

Hey KB,

Really awsome to check out Lucas Oil/Touchdown Town this weekend and the chance to breifly chat with Matt Taylor. Still wish we could have pulled the W, so close....

My question: Every one is talking about the slow start. With 12 under center, that really didnt bother me as much as how the Defense let us down. There was absolutly 0 run block. Denver is going to be tough. What are the chances of Henry Anderson and maybe Butler and/or Davis coming back next week? Our offense is money but without defense... Tough pill to swallow, but on to the next.

Ps: What are the chances of meeting you and Matt at the game again next week?

Thanks,

A fan from Broncos Territory, lets go Colts! – YT

Bowen: Yash, great to meet you on Sunday. Come down towards the field pre-game in Denver. We will be down there after our pre-game radio ends an hour before kickoff. If you missed the injury rundown from Monday, head here. If I had to rank the likeliness of getting those guys back, I'd put Butler first, Anderson second and then Davis third. Clayton Geathers is another name to watch.

Chico C. (Richmond, IN)

When players are signed to the practice squad, what are their weekly routines? What is their pay scale? Are they considered full time employees with benefits? Do they attend games at home? I have been a football fan for many years, but I really don't know much about the NFL practice squad policy. Thanks for your time, I enjoy your articles.

Bowen: Practice squad players do everything with the team besides playing in the game. They rarely travel to road games. They do attend home games. In 2016, pay for practice squad players is a little less than $7,000 per week, although some guys do make more. Opposing teams can sign guys off other practice squads. If they do that though, the player must be on the active roster of their new team for at least three weeks. Each team is allowed to have 10 guys on their practice squad.

Curtis H. (Manassas, VA)

It looks like the other three teams in the AFC South were very aggressive in increasing their rosters, do you think the COLTS were equally aggressive in their pursuit to get back on top of the AFC South?

Bowen: The other AFC South teams were aggressive this offseason because they had the resources to go down that sort of path. Andrew Luck was due a major payday. That's why the Colts went about the offseason in the way they did. Their core is already in place, reaching their second contracts. It's Tennessee and Jacksonville that have starting quarterbacks still on their rookie contracts. That allows for the spending, like the Colts had in prior offseasons. Those teams have been picking in the top-five of drafts for several seasons now. Now with franchise quarterbacks, they need to be aggressive to become a team that can challenge Indy and Houston atop the division. This is how things are now going to be for the Colts. They have to draft well and rely on a couple of free agent additions for future upgrades.

Dustin C. (Bakersfield, CA)

Hi Kevin, my question has to do with the Colts playing in London. I thought I had read awhile ago in one of your prior mailbags that the nfl will one day want to expand the league to have a team in London and there wouldn't be away for every team to have a bye after the travel so in a way the Colts this year are the NFL's Guinea pig. My question is how can the NFL scheduler do that to our team? These games are for real and football is supposed to be a fair competition but this season it doesn't seem like we are all playing on the same playing field. If the NFL wants to have a science fair project on testing how fatigued the players are after an international flight without a bye here's an idea,do it in a pointless preseason game. In my opinion that's the only fair way. Just wondering your take on this. Thanks

Bowen: It was the Colts' decision to elect to have their bye pushed back to a normal period of time (Nov. 13 this year). This is something the Colts wanted. Teams hate an early bye week. If the Colts had their bye post-London, it would have come in Week Five. That means this team would then be playing 12 consecutive weeks leading into the postseason. I totally understand why the Colts would want their bye pushed back. Now, that doesn't minimize the logistics hurdle the Colts will face in getting their guys to recover ASAP before returning to the States to play Chicago in Week Five. The Colts will play in London at 9:30 a.m. ET time on Oct. 2. They will return to Indianapolis around midnight that night. If their body clocks can respond quickly, then it should not be too much of an issue playing a home game that next Sunday.

Leonardo B. (Rio de Janeiro)

Hi Kevin. What would our defensive line look like when A. Jones is back? Could Jones, Langford an Anderson be starters together?

Bowen: This is a question I'm curious to see what the answer will be come October. Right now Langford is working his way back to 100 percent after being on a pitch count in Week One. Henry Anderson's 2016 debut looks to be coming very, very soon. Arthur Jones' return will occur in Week Five against Chicago. When all these guys are healthy on the field (something we have yet to see), I'd expect Anderson and Langford to be starting. I still think we would see David Parry at the nose position in the base defense. Then on passing downs, that's when things will get more creative. I just don't think Jones, Langford or Anderson are starting nose tackles in a base defense. Now, this is a nice problem to have and the Colts should have more than enough defensive line depth once October arrives.

Jesse W. (Dinwiddie, VA)

Mr. Bowen again love your newsletter huge fan of it and my Indy Colts. But my question is. Are our colts going to shore things up in the pass rush because I know that we are banged up at secondary but our pass rush looked petty at best yesterday as well like Stafford had all day to throw the rock. On another not Luck looked like himself yesterday too lighting it up thanks again Mr. Bowen!

Bowen: The Colts have to get their pass rush going. Matthew Stafford was not moved off his spot to the degree the Colts needed to disrupt him. When you take into account just how banged up things are in the secondary right now, the pass rush has to be able to aid things. With Kendall Langford and Henry Anderson working back to 100 percent, the Colts need for Mathis and their other edge guys to get things ramped up. You know teams are going to throw it in the coming weeks, so the Colts must provide a presence in the front to get offenses out of their desired tempo.

Jeffery I. (Indianapolis)

I would like to know the best way to get autographs, when I can only go to a couple games a year.

Bowen: For game day autographs, I encourage fans to get into the stadium very early, right when the gates open. If you are in the lower bowl near the field, players will sometimes sign very early in warmups. Besides that, it's difficult to get autographs on game days.

Sandi B. (Noblesville, IN)

What can a person take into Lucas Oil Stadium on game day? I know you can take a bottle of water as long as it is unopened. But can you take your own snacks, candy, etc.

Bowen: Sandi, head here for all inquiries about game days and what fans can bring into Lucas Oil Stadium. Food is not allowed to be brought inside of Lucas Oil Stadium.

Mark M. (New York)

My question is simple. Why do the colts continue to keep wanting to receive the ball in the first half when they continue to struggle early. Why not get the ball in the second half when they are always playing better?

Bowen: The Lions actually won the toss on Sunday and deferred to the second half. I've seen instances where the Colts have won the toss and elected to receive and also times when they chose to defer. I see both sides to why the Colts would want to receive or kick early in games.

Paul M. (Middletown, NY)

Hi Kevin ; I asked a question,about a year ago,about penalties after scores and doesn't

bite the Colts big time .It would seem that the penalty effected the Colts more than the Lions.I think the penalty should be assessed after kick that way your not starting at the 25yd line.

Could that penalty have been declined by the Colts? Thank you for your thoughts again.

Paul M.

Bowen: That penalty could not have been assessed after the kickoff. Sure, that would be a nice option for the team about to go on defense. If the Colts would have missed the extra point, when the penalty occurred, they could have accepted the penalty and re-kicked the try. Adam Vinatieri made it though, so the penalty could only be applied to the kickoff.

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